Fayetteville SwampDogs right fielder AJ Gallo (Towson) led the ‘Dogs offensive attack going three-for-four with two RBIs. A terrific crowd of over 2,000 Faynatics packed the stands at The Swamp on Fan Appreciation Night to see the hometown SwampDogs knock off the Wilmington Sharks by a final score of 6-4. ‘Dogs improve to 18-32 overall and 8-15 in the CPL East division. Sharks fall to 30-21 and 14-10 in the second half of the summer season.
With a fireworks extravaganza on the horizon, fans already knew they were in store for a great night. What they might not have realized is they were going to witness a moment of honor. Three-year SwampDog and Fayetteville native Jason Morales was inducted into the SwampDogs Hall of Fame. Morales becomes only the second member of the Hall of Fame, joining former teammate Shawn Roof. During his time in the pinstripes, Morales played in 124 games and became the 2006 CPL All-Star Home Derby Champion.
The SwampDogs struck first in the bottom of the second inning and never looked back. Fayetteville designated hitter Matt Lahn ripped a solo home run over the right field wall to give the home team an early 1-0 advantage. In the bottom of the third, Gallo ripped a single through the right side of the infield allowing center fielder Josh Crump (Coastal Carolina) to score on a throwing error by the third baseman. SwampDogs grabbed the 2-0 lead.
Wilmington would get on the board in the top half of the fourth inning as second baseman Cletis Avery (Presbyterian) was hit by a pitch to score the runner from third base with the bases loaded. Sharks cut the deficit in half at 2-1.
The ‘Dogs answered back in the home frame of the fifth inning on an RBI single by shortstop Mike Bell (Georgia) to extend the Fayetteville lead to 3-1.
The Sharks attempted the comeback trail as they tacked on another score in the top of the seventh to make it a 3-2 ballgame. However, the SwampDog offense would continue to produce when they answered quickly with two runs of their own in the bottom frame of the seventh inning to add some much needed insurance. The two runs were delivered on another clutch base-knock off the bat of Gallo and the red-hot Towson University Tiger gave his team a commanding 5-2 advantage.
Wilmington made it a closer contest when they added a run again in the visiting half of the eighth, but a solo dinger off the bat of left-fielder Hunter Morris (Eastern Illinois) increased the SwampDogs lead out to three, 6-3.
The visitors would attempt to rally in the top of ninth when Wilmington tried to extend the ballgame and keep things interesting as they tallied a run to make it 6-4. However, the SwampDogs pitching staff shut the door and sealed the exciting home victory for Fayetteville.
‘Dogs starting pitcher Kaeson Wilson (NC A&T) got the win and improved his record to 3-2 in his final start for Fayetteville in 2016. Wilson threw six innings allowing two earned runs on six hits with five strikeouts. Sharks starting pitcher Evan Eubanks (Oral Roberts) took the loss and fell to 4-2 on the season.
The night was capped off with three fans having the opportunity to participate in the Fayetteville Kia Payoff Pitch promotion. The lucky fans just needed to throw three strikes to win $30,000 courtesy of Fayetteville Kia. One special fan was successful for one strike and was awarded $2,500! Fans then had the moment they had been waiting for – the final fireworks extravaganza of the summer
The Fayetteville SwampDogs are back in action tomorrow night when they travel east to Historic Hicks Field on the Albemarle Sound to face the Edenton Steamers in a doubleheader. The twin bill is being played to make up the postponed contest in Fayetteville on July 19th. First pitch of the double dip is slated for 6 p.m.
Be sure to come out to The Swamp on Monday night, August 8 for the SwampDogs final game of the 2016 season against the Savannah Bananas! We will hold a special Back to School Bash so the kids can head back to class in the fall on a high note.